Sometimes, things just click. Things just fall into place and all is right with the world. You plan something out, a dinner, say, and everything just works. Your timing is just right, your guests are taken care of, you don’t need to use a trap door to silence dissidents, and it all turns out perfectly.
Last night was such a time. Costco was a joy and had the wine we were looking for. We found a delicious alternative to red meat. The traffic was docile and light. We took a break in the afternoon to sit around the pool with friends. We took the dog and the baby to the beach. The evening finished at a reasonable hour with us again sitting by the pool, dipping our legs for relief from the heat, sharing the last few glasses of wine that we had with dessert, not minutes before.
All in all, an evening Nigella herself would have been proud of.
On the menu: Turkey Arrachera, Warm Salad with Bell Peppers and Asparagus, Rice, Trifle.
For those uninitiated to Mexican cuisine, one of the greatest contributions our host country has made to the culinary world is arrachera. It is typically a marinated flank steak that even the most inept cooks would have a hard time screwing up. It takes minutes to cook and tastes delicious when it’s done. Recently, however, we’ve been tallying the amount of red meat that we consume as a family and were shocked with the results. We eat about as much red meat as your average Republican. Since Rene and Cara don’t eat fish and seafood, however, and since I don’t eat pork, it leaves us with few options. After a while, one does tire of chicken.
The alternative to red meat: Turkey Arrachera. When we saw the turkey arrachera, we thought we’d give it a shot, and it did not disappoint. It comes pre-marinated, so all you have to do is slap it on the grille, flip it for flavour, and done.
The warm salad was excellent. Marinated bell peppers and asparagus in raspberry balsamic vinegar and basil-infused olive oil, tossed for a few minutes in the grille wok just to warm (the peppers first, then the asparagus to blanche), then added to mesclun greens and blackberries. For the vinaigrette, we simply used the raspberry balsamic vinegar and the basil-infused olive oil, and added salt and pepper (black and white) to taste. Re-toss the salad (tee-hee) and serve.
Megan’s trifle, however, was a thing of beauty. Pound cake and custard, mixed with blackberries and raspberries, then coated with a blackberry liqueur. She let it stand in the fridge for a few hours before, then topped it with whipped cream and with fresh berries. Perfect.
During the prep, we tried the first wine of the evening.
Wine: Kim Crawford, Marlborough, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, $169.95 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles
This is a really nice wine and we have to thank Nicole from Bucerias for recommending it. It is a very pleasant wine to drink. Very refreshing. Perfect for the hot and humid weather we are heading into. Peachy and apple-y, with an earthiness we couldn’t quite place. Some say herbs; some disagree. Some rolled their eyes at others while others clung to the silly notion that they couldn’t taste herbs, while one with a discerning palate swore the herbs were there. Still, we agreed: earthiness. And what that earthiness does is keep the wine from becoming too fruity and acidic. We will definitely be buying this wine again.
During dinner, we moved on to our second bottle and lo, the lamentations began.
I don’t know what it is about chardonnays, but I just can’t wrap my mouth around them. It’s just a funny thing about these oaky little bastards – they set my teeth on edge.
It lacks character, the Yellow Label does. Woody nose, thanks to the oak, but with a clear taste. Pleasant, but compared to the other wine we drank, not great. Likeable for a chardonnay and the second glass was better. (We were determined that this bottle would haunt us no further than last night. We were going to kill it with our mouths and damn it straight to hell. You think you’re going to take up space in my fridge, chardonnay? Hah! That’s what you think! We’ll drink the rest of you by the pool and hang the morrow!)
Now, we gave this wine a One Bottle rating, but we fully acquiesced that we just … might not know that much about wine. It is possible that we were drinking a really wonderful bottle of chardonnay and we just couldn’t appreciate it. Maybe the mark of a good chardonnay is how much it makes the back of your cheeks ache. Maybe the intensity of the flavours is meant to make you shiver. Maybe you are supposed to wish you were drinking something else. If that is the case, then we greatly under estimated this wine. All I know is that every time I looked at my glass, I got a little depressed to see that there was still more left. It was like the wine knew what we were up to and kept reproducing in our cups.
I can say this of white wine, however: it certainly does not stay with you the next day the way that red wine can.
Well, that’s it for this week.
Next week will be a little weird, since Megan is out of town, only to return Sunday night, and we haven’t planned anything for such an event. We have no contingency set up for a disaster of such magnitude. The mantle of responsibility rests on my shoulders, I suppose. Let’s see what I can come up with.